NCHSAA: School Missed Player Eligibility 'Red Flags' | Athletic Business

NCHSAA: School Missed Player Eligibility 'Red Flags'

Mp

When Myers Park High School in Charlotte, N.C., announced last month that its football team would forfeit its wins from the past season, principal Robert Folk and athletic director Brian Poore said they reported player eligibility violations as soon as they learned of them in January.

“It is my intention to lead with integrity and not deception,” the email, jointly signed by Folk and Poore, said, as reported by local CBS affiliate WBTV. “I will say the same about the athletic programs of Myers Park High School.”

A WBTV investigation has obtained internal student records showing six football players registered last fall as living at one address and two players registered at another. According to the state’s top high school athletic official, the documents mean Myers Park administrators had enough information to investigate last fall.

The house listed as the resident address of the six players was recently torn down and the lot is currently a patch of cleared dirt. Two other players, were registered as living at a Myers Park area apartment.

In an interview on Fox News Channel, Lucas Lenhoff, sitting next to his Myers Park coach, said his family moved to Charlotte so he could play football. Lenhoff was included in the alleged household of six players, records show.

“I was looking for a season in the second semester and Charlotte was one of the places that hadn’t played yet and I thought it would be a great move so my family and I, you know, believed in in the dream of playing college football and expanding on what I was doing and, so I moved out to Charlotte,” Lenhoff said.

The Fox News host added that Lenhoff brought other California players with him.

But Myers Park administrators said they had no indication there were any problems until after the football season.

In an email responding to a request for comment for this story, Folk said the players were registered at different addresses and that Poore, the athletic director, was not aware of any eligibility issues prior to January.

“The students in question lived at more than one address in the Myers Park attendance zone. The parents of the students in question provided falsified documents for school enrollment and athletic eligibility,” Folk said.

“Mr. Poore was not aware of eligibility concerns for the identified students until January 2022. Mr. Poore was not aware of the falsified documents from the identified students’ parents until January 2022.”

Folk did not respond to a follow-up email from a reporter listing the six students registered as living at the one address.

In an interview with WBTV, North Carolina High School Athletic Association commissioner Que Tucker said it was clear to her based on the evidence she was given that administrators should have seen evidence of problems sooner.

“Well, what was concerning is that there were student-athletes who had come from other states, there were some student-athletes who had enrolled last spring as well as in August and so those were concerning,” Tucker said.

“And so as I listened to the information I was concerned that perhaps there maybe were some red flags that were missed.”

WBTV asked Tucker whether six students registered to one address would be a red flag?

“Absolutely,” Tucker said. “Any time you have students — and if they’re not siblings — you know, that’s concerning. And you, as athletic directors, athletic administrators, you want to pay attention to those.”

The team’s record from the 2021 season was vacated, and the school had to pay back $6,700 earned from playoff games, as well as a $250 fine.

There is no indication, however, that any CMS employee will face punishment in this matter.

Tucker said the NCHSAA does not handle personnel matters involving school district officials and that, in this case, it would be up to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to take action.

“Those are questions that ultimately CMS will have to address because we don’t get involved in personnel issues to that extent when we discover or we determine that someone has used ineligible players,” Tucker said. “The adults who maybe didn’t see it or didn’t detect it, especially if the information was there.”

A spokeswoman for CMS said the district would not release information regarding employee discipline, WBTV reported.

“We take the NCHSAA eligibility requirements very seriously, and the student-athlete violations at MPHS have been handled according to the recent NCHSAA ruling,” the first CMS spokeswoman said in a statement.

Lucas Lenhoff’s dad, Steven, wouldn’t answer questions on camera but said in a phone call that he and his family thought they were following all the rules necessary for their son and the other players from California to play at Myers Park.

“Everybody know who we were,” he said. “It was never a secret and, you know, the school never talked to us.”

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